This album is flawless. Rather than jumping into the studio for a few days randomly between appearances, they were given real time off to record Rubber Soul, and this was the result. One of the best albums ever made, there isn’t a bad track on it. Rolling Stone ranked it #5 in their Top 500 albums of all time and there’s a long list of critics who agree.
Why is it so great? Well, the Beatles were finally given the keys to the castle and had the freedom and time to do what they wanted in the studio. They had creative control. Paired up with George Martin, they made a complex album with rich harmonies and tastefully layered sounds without losing that fun poppy sound that made them famous. For the first time since A Hard Day’s Night, all of these songs are originals.
The Beatles were growing up. This album marked the transition from Beatlemania into a more adult sounding genre. It had a variety of musical styles, which keeps it interesting. Folk, blues, rock, pop, and even a honky tonk song (thanks Ringo!). The stories the songs told weren’t just puppy love and infatuation anymore. Sometimes they struck out and slept in the bathtub (Norwegian Wood) and other times they have conflicting emotions (I’m Looking Through You and Girl). There’s a wonderful song about childhood and nostalgia (In My Life). They were starting to view the LP as one musical project, rather than a collection of individual songs. It was a good 3 years ahead of its time and made everything else sound outdated. To give you some perspective, when it hit #1 it knocked The Sound of Music movie soundtrack out of the top spot. It was a radical shift.
When I first heard the transition from their previous albums to this I was angry at the record company and manager. Could this have happened sooner if they’d been given the freedom to record this way from the start? Could A Hard Day’s Night or Help! been even better? Or were they not mature enough to make an album this good until now? The chicken or the egg, which came first? Obviously, we will never know, but what we can do is appreciate the incredible songs on this record.
One note about the title of the album. It was based off a saying the guys had heard making fun of Mick Jagger, a white brit singing black American soul music. He had a plastic soul, not genuine. I don’t necessarily believe that, as I feel that certain types of music resonate with people on an individual level, no matter what color they are or where they’re raised, but they used that as a basis for this album title.
Drive My Car
I love this song. It’s fun, up beat, and a bit goofy. Seriously, who hasn’t sung “Beep Beep, Beep Beep, YEAH!” along with the music when nobody was around to hear. As a kid, this was one of the songs that turned me on to the Beatles. Great way to start an album. This was the best version out there I could find. It’s not as good as the studio version, but it’s not bad.
Norwegian Wood (This Bird has Flown)
I mentioned this song in the intro. Great folksy guitar riff, sounds great on an acoustic. Even when they struck out with the ladies they could write a good song about it. I couldn’t fine a decent Beatles version, but apparently everyone and their grandma has covered it because there’s a million of these videos out there. I guess they should be flattered. Here’s one that wasn’t appalling:
So far I’ve played three of the first four tracks off the album. Can you imagine an album starting off like this today? I LOVE the harmony on this song. They were so strong vocally as a group and it shows out all over this album.
The French style guitars make you feel like you’re in a cafe in Paris enjoying a latte and ham sandwich with way too much butter on it. It’s so smooth and mellow.
In My Life
There’s so many amazing songs on this album, it’s almost like a greatest hits collection by itself. This is a moving song. I get emotional when I hear it thinking about all the people and places in my life I’ve known that mean so much to me. It’s wonderful.
There’s so many more songs I’d like to share, but I’m picking this as the last. The melody of this song is very haunting, as shown by Jim Sturgess in the Across the Universe movie below.
Here’s another excellent cover. I’m happy that there are so many Beatles cover bands out there. They’re keeping the music alive and relevant.
That’s all I got. Hope you all have a fantastic week.